Sacramento Homeschool Math By Hand

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L.2 4-6: Vocabulary As Adjunct to Listening, Writing, & Reading (#168)

July 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Homeschool Math Curriculum

A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 168
Note that the new blog title theme reflects the changes on the Math By Hand website.  Please note the easy blog index feature on the new MBH website.

For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math.  Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”  And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times.

Why ambient?  A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.  Today’s post will review some previously posted Common Core ELA standards along with the last of the standards in this set, listed in blue and are followed by their ambient counterparts.

English Language Arts Standards > Language > Grade 2
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).
Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., addition, additional).
Use knowledge of the meaning of individual words to predict the meaning of compound words (e.g., birdhouse, lighthouse, housefly; bookshelf, notebook, bookmark).
Use glossaries and beginning dictionaries, both print and digital, to determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases.

Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).
Distinguish shades of meaning among closely related verbs (e.g., toss, throw, hurl) and closely related adjectives (e.g., thin, slender skinny, scrawny).

Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

At the risk of lumping all of these standards together, I will attempt to address them as a group.  Much or most of this is a parts to whole approach, dissecting rather than discerning.  Discerning is possible only when a reasonable grasp of the whole is present.  Until the ability to reason abstractly has begun at age 11 or 12, the young child yearns for the world to be whole.  Dissecting language is just one example of tearing apart that which needs to remain intact.  With this in mind, I will attempt to address the above standards, in order.

Relying on watered down, “grade level” reading material is a mistaken attempt to make reading accessible at a younger age than it would otherwise naturally and healthily occur.  No array of strategies can match an exposure to and immersion in quality literature.  In this glorious context, the meanings of many unknown and multiple-meaning words are easily accessed.  Easily, because the acquisition is painless, in the sense that it’s delivered whole and all-of-a-piece, with the child left in peace and allowed to take it in at his/her own pace.

Sentence-level context is experienced as complex sentences are repeatedly heard in the stories that are told and retold every day.  Some of these are written/copied as captions and text that accompany drawings and illustrations of the story, so reading is learned through listening and writing.

Prefixes, suffixes, and roots are best learned when an understanding of their origins (Latin, Greek, French, etc.) can be approached and understood: later on.  Although a solid sense for this relationship is built through many examples taken from stories/literature heard and told.

Learning the meaning of individual and compound words can be approached playfully and concretely.  The main word could be colorfully illustrated in the center of a page, with its derivatives scattered in a circle around it. For instance, a house in the center, surrounded by playful renderings of a light, a bird, and a fly.  Or the words could be mimed like this: holding a book up, have the child say “book,” then walk over and place it on a shelf as the child says “bookshelf,” and so on.  This could be followed by illustrations with the words written beneath each item.

Reference books are best kept for later.  Until the age of reason, the teacher is the buffer between the child and everything there is to know in the world.  The Waldorf method is that everything comes to the child through the filter of a teacher/parent who is known, loved, and trusted.  It’s a long childhood, and rightly so.  If left to ripen the fruit will be sweet, but if plucked prematurely it has little to no value and is bitter.

Relationship and nuance are best attained through quality literature.  The meanings may not be readily produced yet, but they are there waiting for the right time to emerge.  Real-life connections are best made through experience.  If the child is exposed, through adult example and behavior, to the subtle meanings and qualities of words, it will bear fruit in time.

Shades of meaning among closely related words too, is acquired through absorption and osmosis, the same way every child learns language.  What a feat this is at ages 1, 2, and 3!  Why do we have faith that this will happen naturally and then lose that faith when we teach with a drill and dull worksheet approach?

Words, phrases, adjectives and adverbs.  All will be acquired through conversations, learning and reciting poetry, singing songs, saying limericks and tongue twisters, hearing and retelling wonderful stories!  It really will happen, and most definitely, “when the kids are happy, that makes teachers and parents happy.”

Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal.  Back to Grade 2 Common Core math standards tomorrow!

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